Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Sheltering in Place with Kindred Spirits!

Saint Martha's Guild has assembled a delightful collection of projects to keep your family focused on growing in holiness while introducing a variety of Catholic traditions and resources

Looking for directions to make your own scapular?  A pocket shrine?
A set of 40 eggs to tell the Resurrection story from Ash Wednesday on?

The narration is amusing and the variety of projects is impressive!  You'll be buying craft supplies before you know it.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Tenebrae at Home

Photo by Carabo Spain from Pixabay
If you haven't experienced Tenebrae (prayer for the nights of Triduum) before, this is the perfect year to try it out! During a typical Holy Week, it's a little much for families with small kids to try to make it to one more thing, but well, here we are. This is a prayer that really captures the senses, which is something I think we could all use when our usual forms of worship are being brought to us through the filter of our screens.

I've put together this printable version, which is pared-down enough for small attention spans who will mostly like the candles and banging on things in the dark, but serious enough not to feel babyish for older children or an all-adult group.

If you are musically inclined, it's well worth the effort to chant the Lamentations. I've put together the English text and the original chant melody here:

This recording isn't identical, but gives a good feel for the chant:

If you need a refresher on the hymns, here are some easy-to-follow recordings:

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Making a Paschal Candle

Go here or here to see how your parish version is made.

Or make your own for your family's prayer center using these simple directions:

  1. Cut a piece of white tissue paper, approximately 8 x 10.5 and carefully tape it onto a piece of copier paper.  It will work best if it is all very flat.
  2. Copy this image onto the tissue side (NB - there are enough images on this page for 3 candles (or one if you happen to make a mistake or two)
  3. Cut the page in thirds along the width and, centering the image on your candle, hold the blank ends behind the candle, shielding your fingers from the heat during the next step.
  4. Using a hair dryer on high heat simply melt the cross image onto the front of the candle.  Once it's tacked in place by the heat you can trim the tissue paper ends and continue to melt down the paper edges.
  5. I use gold map pins for my "grains of incense."

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Church Ladies approve

A new project makes it easy for Philadelphians to put down their phones and get creative with their hands — for free.
Nailed to a brick wall on a busy section of Carpenter Lane in West Mt. Airy is a small cabinet with a clear door. Inside is a luscious bounty of color: piles and piles of yarn, plus complements like needles and patterns. On the front is a carefully lettered nameplate reading “Little Free Fiber Library.”

Read the rest here. It’s a sweet idea, and who doesn’t have a little yarn to contribute?

Friday, February 21, 2020

Lenten Sacrifices Booklet for 2020

Over the years, I've found that the key to keeping my Lenten resolutions is just seeing them in front of me. There are so many distractions in a day that I really need something concrete to keep me focused. With that in mind, here's a tiny booklet that can easily go into a purse, a prayer book, on the fridge, or wherever it will serve as a daily reminder.

Lenten Sacrifices Booklet Download (PDF).

To put together the book after you've printed it out (here's a diagram if you're a visual learner like me):
  • Fold in half and crease, with the text facing out, along the registration marks, both the long and wide way. Since every printer is different, you may have to trim a bit of the margins to even up these edges. 
  • Open it out, and then fold each side in to meet in the center (again following the registration marks). 
  • Slit the paper along the tops of the center two sets of pages, then pull open this slit at the folds. Fold book so that the covers are in front and back.
Have a blessed and fruitful Lent!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Church Lady Attire for Every Occasion

Loaves and Fishes Sunday is coming, do you have the perfect accessory for your ensemble yet?
Source: MaorZabarHats on Etsy.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Moroccan Chickpea and Lemon Couscous Soup

"I did not expect this to be so hot, and I did NOT expect this to be SO GOOD!"
-The seven-year-old's ringing endorsement

(Adapted from)
This came together very easily, and two out of three kids devoured it (the third is on strike from any vegetables that aren't peas or corn at the moment). The flavors are all familiar, but a bit exotic combined in this way.

·         2 Tablespoon olive oil
·         1 whole onion, chopped
·         2 whole large garlic cloves, minced
·         1 Tablespoon tomato paste
·         1 teaspoon kosher salt
·         1 teaspoon ground cumin
·         1/2 teaspoon paprika
·         1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
·         1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
·         1/8 teaspoon cayenne
·         1/2 cup dry white wine
·         2 whole carrots, peeled and chopped
·         2 cups cooked chickpeas (if canned, drain and rinse)
·         4 cups vegetable broth
·         14.5 ounces diced tomatoes (1 can)
·         1 Tablespoon butter
·         1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
·         1 teaspoon lemon zest

Lemon Couscous Ingredients

·         3 cups water
·         3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
·         1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
·         1 1/2 cups dry uncooked couscous
·         1 teaspoon lemon zest
·         Fresh mint, thinly sliced, for garnish
In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook until softened, 4 minutes. Stir in garlic, tomato paste, salt, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, turmeric and cayenne pepper, cooking for 1-2 minutes. Add white wine and reduce until almost completely evaporated. Add carrots and chickpeas, stirring to combine with spices.
Add vegetable broth and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
While the soup simmers, prepare the couscous. In a small saucepan, bring water, lemon juice and salt to a boil over medium high heat. Remove saucepan from heat and stir in couscous and lemon zest. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Uncover the couscous and fluff using a fork.
Once soup finishes simmering, remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, lightly puree soup, leaving it slightly chunky. Stir in butter, lemon juice and lemon zest. Top each bowl of soup with a mound of lemon couscous and sprinkle with fresh mint.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Some meatless Friday lunches

My family tries to observe meatless Fridays year-round. After a lot of peanut butter or egg salad sandwiches, I have found that the easiest way to provide an interesting Friday lunch is to either serve a meatless meal (or meatless base with meat on the side) on Thursday night as well, so as to have some leftovers to work with. Outside of Lent, we have a family Friday night pizza and a movie tradition, so Thursday often ends up as our fish night. I lack the motivation to cut up fruit at lunch time, so the kids usually have frozen berries or homemade applesauce on the side.

My kids have enjoyed

Arugula pesto pasta with broiled fish

Shrimp salad with brie

Deviled eggs, corn salad, rye bread

Tuna rice salad

Vegetable pasta salad

Vegetable stir-fry with eggs

Shrimp pasta salad, tomatoes with buttermilk dressing, goldfish in beet hummus

Imitation crab salad open face, roasted sweet potatoes, applesauce

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Effortless Entertaining: Afternoon Tea edition

When your kids want birthday cake, but your family is done with birthdays until spring?

Have a birthday party for your eldest son's hobby horse Christmas Horse III (known to his friends as simply Horse). Horse joined our family the weekend of our small town's Oktoberfest, and as such his birthday is observed as a moveable feast, the first Saturday in October. We celebrate his birthday with afternoon tea, which is both an easy and economical way to entertain. I estimate I spent about $20 on groceries- not bad for a gathering of thirty people. Since nothing save the tea is served warm, this meal lends itself well to being made ahead. If you have an older child, the two vegetable items could easily be made by them.

Cucumber Slices with cream cheese and tomato
Celery Sticks with Pimento
Deviled Eggs
Curry Chicken Salad Sandwiches
(Imitation) Crab Rolls
Scones (by Neighbor 1) with Apple Butter
Cookies (by Neighbor 2)
Never fail chocolate cake with ganache (also excellent made with coffee or red wine in place of beer)
Rooibos tea
I meant to put out a bottle of sherry, but forgot and no one seemed to find anything lacking.


This year we had 10 adults and 8 eating children in attendance. I made a dozen each of the sandwiches (2 lb chicken breasts and 2 packages imitation crab), 1 dozen deviled eggs, and 2 dozen of the cucumber slices. No one went hungry, but there were not many leftovers, either. I had one large slow cooker full of chai (could have used more) and made two pots of the rooibos tea over the course of the afternoon. The adults used bone china, but since the kids had theirs al fresco, they used tin cups from the picnic basket.

A horse is a horse, of course, of course....